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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Spirited practice as UConn prepares for major test

Since the start of December the UConn women's basketball team has played in nine different states while dispatching ranked and unranked teams with remarkable ease.

It all started with an 18-point win at Notre Dame and other than a 16-point win in last month's Maggie Dixon Classic, there has been little reason to break a sweat.

Well, all of that changes today when No. 1 South Carolina comes to town for an 8 p.m. game at Gampel Pavilion.

The last time out the Huskies continued their recent trend of sluggish starts before rolling to yet another win. UConn coach Geno Auriemma had seen just about enough so he sat star forwards Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck for the final 35 minutes and shot-blocking phenom Kiah Stokes for the entire second half.

During the portion of yesterday's practice open to the media, all hands were on deck. The first thing that caught my eye is how crisply UConn moved on offense. Stewart was in the middle of most of it and even got her demanding head coach to utter "good" when she made a nifty reserve layup. If Stewart was the first player to catch my eye in practice, Kia Nurse and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis were not far behind.

Nurse began the season by missing more shots than she made just twice in her first 12 games but has done just that in six of her last 11 games. She was shooting the ball with as much confidence as I have seen from her in a while and more importantly was making the shots from the perimeter. Speaking of connecting from long distance, Mosqueda-Lewis was dropping 3s from all over the court. For all the attention being focused on Stewart and Tuck heading into a showdown with a tall, athletic South Carolina front court, if Nurse and Mosqueda-Lewis play like they practiced, it could be a tough night for the Gamecocks defense.

The two plays that stood out over the rest came when Moriah Jefferson fed the ball to Tuck in the post who fired out a pass to Mosqueda-Lewis for an open 3. Then Saniya Chong aggressively drove baseline and after drawing a couple of defenders to her, turned to hit Mosqueda-Lewis who promptly drained another 3-pointer.

"We were pretty good today on offense," Auriemma said after the practice. "There was a pretty good flow, some good ball movement and we knocked in some shots. I thought it was good. This game is about confidence, if you have confidence in yourself, if you have confidence in the offense and if you have confidence that you are going to get good shots, that is half the battle."

TICKET TRANSFER POLICY
With the nasty weather out there, UConn put up its policy for transferring tickets on its site.

First, doors usually open 90 minutes before the game but will open up two hours before the game tonight. Perhaps the fact the ESPN SportsCenter will be broadcasting live beginning at 6 p.m. as well as allowing fans to seek refuge from the cold, snowy conditions led to the decision.

If fans wants to transfer their tickets to another person, visit www.uconntickets.com, click the MY ACCOUNT button and then TRANSFER TICKETS. Tickets can be given to UConn students to use if you choose not to try to make you way up to Storrs by sending an email to athtickets@UConn.edu  before 5 p.m. with account number, phone number and seat number.

INTERESTED SPECTATOR
UConn incoming freshman De'Janae Boykin flew up to Connecticut yesterday with her parents so she can take in tonight's game along with the thousands of other UConn fans at Gampel Pavilion.

Boykin, a 6-foot-2 forward out of Flowers High in Springdale, Md., is averaging more than 21 points per game although she has missed the last 12 games with a hand injury.

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